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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

65 Models Considered
30 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best upright exercise bikes

Cardio workouts are a critical component of a healthy lifestyle, but activities like running can be hard on the joints. Cycling, however, is relatively easy on the knees, making an upright exercise bike an excellent addition to your home gym.

Upright exercise bikes are similar to street bikes in that they offer a traditional riding position without back support. A display or console in front keeps track of your workout stats so you can monitor how hard you’re working.

Perhaps best of all, upright exercise bikes are more affordable than many other types of exercise bikes. For casual users and those new to exercise bikes, an upright bike is an excellent choice. Our buying guide will help you determine what to look for in an upright exercise bike seat, pedals, handlebars, and resistance system. We have also included some specific upright exercise bike recommendations to make your shopping as easy as possible.

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As with any type of exercise, consult your doctor before starting a workout routine to ensure it won’t exacerbate any conditions you might have.

Key considerations

Seat

The nature of an upright exercise bike seat determines how comfortable it is to ride. Most upright bikes feature a larger seat with significant cushioning, but some low-end models have smaller, less comfortable seats.

Most seats are vertically adjustable so you get the right height. Some are also horizontally adjustable so you get the right positioning. Adjustability contributes to better posture while exercising.

Pedals

Upright exercise bikes have a few different types of pedals. Low-end models tend to have bare pedals on which you simply place your feet. Others have a cage or loop on the pedals to help keep your feet in place. The latter are usually the most comfortable.

Handlebars

Upright exercise bikes typically have a tall handlebar post, resulting in an upright position when riding. Some have handlebars with a multi-grip design for flexibility. The handlebars themselves usually aren’t adjustable, but you can find some high-end models that allow you to move them vertically and horizontally.

Resistance system

Upright exercise bikes provide resistance as you’re pedaling to give you a better workout. Two main types of bike resistance are strap-based resistance and mechanical resistance.

Strap-based resistance

Bikes with strap-based resistance feature a flywheel with a strap attached. When you tighten the strap, the bike’s resistance increases. Strap-based resistance bikes are usually more affordable, but they don’t hold up as well to repeated use.

Mechanical resistance

Bikes with mechanical resistance feature pads at the top or sides of a flywheel. You can tighten the pads to increase clamp pressure and resistance. Mechanical resistance bikes can be noisy, though, and the pads can break down over time.

Number of resistance levels

In addition to the type of resistance system a bike has, pay attention to the number of resistance levels it offers. Some bikes only have three resistance levels; others have as many as 100. The more resistance levels offered, the more control you’ll have over the intensity of your workouts.

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Did You Know?
Upright exercise bikes only work the lower half of the body, so you may want to keep some hand weights nearby to incorporate upper body exercise while cycling.
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Features

Display

As mentioned, upright exercise bikes feature a display or console. This houses the bike’s controls and tracks workout data. At minimum, most exercisers want a bike that tracks pedaling speed, calories burned, distance, and workout duration. Advanced bikes may include additional workout stats.

Low-end bikes generally have basic digital displays, but many models have easy-to-read LCD displays. Some high-end bikes have a touchscreen display for enhanced ease of use. If you opt for an upright exercise bike with a touchscreen, make sure it’s sweat-resistant so you needn’t worry about damaging it during a workout.

Heart rate monitor

Some upright exercise bikes include a heart rate monitor. Most have a contract monitor that only tracks your heart rate while you’re touching a specific area of the handlebars or console. However, some have a chest strap monitor that measures your heart rate without you having to touch anything. Bikes with heart rate chest monitors are usually more expensive.

Weight capacity

It’s essential to check an upright exercise bike’s maximum user weight. Many can hold up to 300 pounds, but some top out at about 250 pounds.

Classes/personalized training

Some high-end upright exercise bikes with a touchscreen display are WiFi-connected, allowing you to stream classes or training sessions. You’ll pay more for these models, so consider the importance of this feature when shopping. If you want to take your workouts to the next level, it’s a feature worth considering.

Media rack

A media rack in the console allows you to peruse a book, tablet, or phone while you’re cycling. With this feature, you can easily read or watch videos while you exercise to keep yourself entertained.

Console speakers

Some upright exercise bikes have built-in speakers in the console, allowing you to connect to your phone or tablet and stream your favorite workout music to keep you motivated while exercising.

Water bottle holder

Staying hydrated while you exercise is important. For this reason, many upright exercise bikes feature a water bottle holder in a spot where you can quickly grab your drink.

When choosing a location for your exercise bike, consider how warm the area gets. Basements are ideal locations because they tend to stay cool in warm weather.

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Accessories

Bike shorts: Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 5.5 Short 2
For cycling, many people find bike shorts to be their gear of choice. We love this pair from Louis Garneau because they offer a slim fit and a wide waistband that won’t pinch your belly.

Sports water bottle: Hydro Flask Water Bottle
To keep on top of hydration, it helps to have a durable sports water bottle nearby. This one from Hydro Flask is a favorite because it’s easy to clean and keeps water cold for a long time.

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Did You Know?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity per week. Having an exercise bike at home can be an easy way to work more exercise into your routine.
Staff
BestReviews

Upright exercise bike prices

Inexpensive: The most affordable upright exercise bikes are basic models with strap-based resistance. Fewer resistance levels are typically offered, and the digital display is likely to track only basic stats like distance, time, and calories burned. Expect to pay between $60 and $300 for a bike like this.

Mid-range: Between $300 and $900, upright exercise bikes offer a wider range of features. Some have strap-based resistance; others have mechanical resistance. These bikes typically offer at least 25 resistance levels, and many also feature LCD displays and heart rate monitoring. Some are WiFi-connected.

Expensive: The most expensive upright exercise bikes are high-tech, feature-packed models. Nearly all have mechanical resistance and as many as 100 resistance levels. For $900 to $3,000, you can also expect color touchscreen displays that allow you to stream cycling classes or movies.

Tips

  • Set up your seat correctly. Do this before your first ride. The height should be comfortable for you: your knees should be mostly straight with a small bend of 5 to 10 degrees.
  • Check the handlebar position. You should be able to hold the bars without straining your neck or back.
  • Stretch before riding your exercise bike. Perform stretches that target your hamstrings, knees, back, and neck to ready yourself for the riding motion.
  • Make use of media. On an exercise bike, you don’t have to worry about cars, pedestrians, or other traffic, so it’s safe to have some distractions to help you power through. Bikes with media shelves make it easy to read a book or watch a show on your phone or tablet.
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Try to drink water at least once every 15 minutes when exercising.

FAQ

Q. What’s the difference between an upright exercise bike and a spin bike?

A. An upright bike usually has a wider seat, which most users find comfortable. The console is generally wider, too, and the pedals stop moving when you still your feet. A spin bike is designed to be a lot like a road bike: the pedals keep moving even when your feet stop. It’s used for indoor cycling training and fast-paced spin classes.

Q. I’m a beginner. Is an upright exercise bike a good choice?

A. An upright exercise bike is a great choice for many people who are new to exercise. It can provide an excellent cardio workout without putting too much stress on your joints. It’s also easy to control your workout’s intensity, so you can challenge yourself as your fitness level increases.

Q. Do upright exercise bikes come with warranties?

A. Nearly all exercise bike manufacturers provide some type of warranty protection for their upright bikes. Many offer at least one year of warranty coverage from the date of purchase, but some offer different coverage for each part of the bike. For example, you might find a bike with 10-year warranty protection on the frame but just a year of protection on the electronics.

 

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